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Was Halsey's Typhoon the inspiration for 'The Caine Mutiny'?

Originally published under Ask Mr. History. Published Online: May 09, 2013 
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Just watched for about the third time in 15 years The Caine Mutiny.

Then went to History Channel on You Tube and watched the program on "Halsey's Typhooon" and noted the B&W films of ships being tossed around in the storm were similar to Hollywood's images of the Caine.

Do you suppose Halsey's Typhoon(s) was an inspiration for The Caine Mutiny … or perhaps the movie embellished the story by adding the storm?

Thomas Wheeler

? ? ?

Dear Mr. Wheeler,

Herman Wouk based his novel on his experiences aboard two Clemson class destroyer-minesweepers, USS Zane (February 1943-February 1945) and Southard (May 1945 to the end of the war). He would have known about Typhoon Cobra, the one that ravaged Admiral William Halsey's Third Fleet in mid-December 1944, while aboard Zane, although while he was aboard Southard off Okinawa Halsey's fleet was hit by a second major typhoon on June 5, 1945. Wouk's book refers to the earlier one, which sank three destroyers and severely damaged a large portion of the fleet. It is hardly the sole inspiration for the book, the film or the stage play, however.

For more on the Caine Mutiny and its relationship with World War II, see "True Fiction" in the May/June 2013 issue of World War II magazine.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
Weider History Group
More Questions at Ask Mr. History


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